Patagonia Sur has made it easy to visit the heart of Patagonia through their Valle California property. They have created a limited development ranch where a few select owners have access to 8,000 acres of conserved land near the small Chilean town of Palena.
Following a brief stay in Buenos Aires, we flew south to Esquél, Argentina. Upon our arrival we were greeted by Aurelia from Patagonia Sur. Aurelia would be our guide throughout our stay at Patagonia Sur, and quickly become a great friend. She majored in eco-tourism, is an accomplished sailor and knows everything about the region including its ecology, history, and culture.
Aurelia drove us across the Chilean border at Carrenleufu, Argentina and helped with the border crossing process. From the border, Valle California was just a short 45 minute drive away.
Upon our arrival in Valle California, we were welcomed by the incredible staff: Apu, Irene, Jorge, Alejo, and Johnny. We checked into our luxurious heated yurts replete with fine bedding, hardwood floors, private bath, and sitting area. We walked over to the lodge where we were greeted with handwoven slippers from local artisans, snacks and fresh juice made from berries from the surrounding forest.
The quincho is a modern designed lodge that virtually blends in with its surroundings and rises over the Tigre River with an incredible view of the snow-capped Andes. The north side of the building is made completely of glass providing the sense that you are in the middle of the forest. It is the main meeting area, connected to the yurts by a wooden paths, where we would have all of our meals, cocktail hours, and afternoons by the fire.
We then took a quick hike along the Tigre River through the La Estrella limited development area (see map). The limited development areas are select parcels within the property where owners can build homes. The rest of the 8,000 acres are conserved by the first conservation easement in Chile. The hike took us to Jorge who had five bikes waiting for us. We toured the rest of the La Estrella on mountain bikes and returned for lunch at the lodge, the first of many great feasts prepared by the affable Apu.
After lunch we headed to the fundo (farm) home to chickens, geese, sheep, and horses. Valle California is home to 50 sheep and the farm along with the greenhouse supply many of the meats and vegetables served. Valle California works on a system of holistic grazing, sustainable foods, and ecotourism practices that benefit the overarching community.
The fundo rests in a pastoral meadow at the head of a sweeping valley surrounded by mountains. We each saddled up on fit and well-mannered horses and took a four hour tour of the Laguna Corazon and El Tigre Alto limited development areas on the way to the Argentine border. We crossed streams and hills, passing by numerous ponds and lakes, and walked through thick forests across a network of trails created by the gauchos whose families were original settlers in the area. Valle California is home to lagoons, pampas, and 25 km of the Tigre River and we were able to see many of these landscapes on our journey.
The sun does not set until around 9:30 pm this time of year, so we had a full day of exploring the vastness of Valle California. After our horseback adventure, we were greeted with pisco sours, fine wines, flatbread appetizers and dined with Apu and Aurelia in the quincho. While we had been eating, the staff had warmed up our yurts so by the time we were ready for bed, our luxurious accommodations were toasty warm.
The next morning we woke up to the sound of rain against our roofs and walked over to the quincho with the anticipation of what Apu would have waiting for us.
We then prepared for a hike along the network of trails through the property. We began at the fundo and walked through more of La Estrella, where we witnessed final construction on a beautiful home. The house had a beautiful view of the entire valley, numerous guest rooms, a communal quincho, and a hot tub just a few yards away. Patagonia Sur makes it easy for investors to build their dream home in the heart of Patagonia. They will build a road and provide buried electricity and water to the parcel. Recently, many owners have selected North American companies to assemble their homes while contracting with Chilean architects.
The hike weaved through La Estrella, as we followed the banks of the Tigre River to the El Morro limited development area. We climbed a large hill on El Morro that offered us some of the best views of the property and close to one of the old gaucho settlements.
Although we had plans to raft down the Palena River, the rain persisted so we took a lazy afternoon to read books by the fire and take a hot tub by the Tigre River. We then had pisco sours, wine, and build-your-own tacos at the fire before feasting to our last dinner.
We slept well on our last night following another incredible spread. Alejo, a jovial local gaucho, educated us on the local history before driving us to Palena to start our next adventure.
We have traveled to Patagonia multiple times but this was definitely one of the most relaxing and fun-filled excursions we have had. Patagonia Sur has made it their mission for you to enjoy Patagonia’s rich ecological diversity through unlimited outdoor activities, wonderful accommodations, while conserving the property with a well-designed limited development ranch. Not only have they made it an easy place to visit, Patagonia Sur has also made it possible for anyone to build their own dream home in the heart of the region without the hassles of building roads, extending utilities and selecting contractors. In addition, Valle California provides a safe environment where you virtually can lock and leave your property and enjoy fellowship with other homeowners from around the world. You now have a one-stop shop to become a Patagonia resident.